Acid wash cotton does not belong in my house.
April 2, 2011 6:38 PM   Subscribe

Cotton twill fabric developed acid-wash effect after a trip through the washer. Another wash didn't fix it, what is wrong and what do I do?

I bought an IKEA KIVIK sofa with 100% cotton twill slipcovers, and the slipcovers came horribly wrinkled and smelling like chemicals. I washed them, hung dry (per the care instructions), and they now had an ugly acid-wash look. I ran out of detergent and used shampoo to make up the difference, but I diluted it in wash water before adding the fabrics.

I figured that I overloaded the washer and didn't get all of the sizing out of the fabric, so I washed some of the cushion covers again, in detergent, and this time I tumble dried on low. The covers look a little better, but still have the wrinkly, spidery pattern visible (photos 2 and 3 are post-second-wash). They're also a slightly different color from the others now, so I'll probably have to wash the rest regardless to have a monochromatic couch.

What do I do? There's a reputable dry cleaner near me, IKEA has a fairly generous return policy, and I'm willing to continue pumping quarters in the washing machine if that will help. I don't want to return the whole sofa, but getting slip covers in a different fabric is a possibility if you can convince me this won't happen again.
posted by momus_window to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've seen this on denim a time or two and was told it was from the soap sitting on the fabric before the water fully filled up in the washer. I don't know how to fix it, sorry.
posted by sanka at 7:41 PM on April 2, 2011

Take the covers back to Ikea and tell them what you told us: they were new, they smelt like chemicals, you washed them and it did something strange. They should offer you a replacement or a refund.

Will it happen again? Maybe. Ikea furniture is cheap because it's cheaply made. But the store should be able to tell you whether the chemical smell was normal, or a sign that something went awry with the manufacturing process. If you opt for the replacement covers, I would ask them to open the bag for you in the store to check for the same smell.
posted by Georgina at 7:43 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I doubt that 'horribly wrinkled' is the way that Ikea normally ships their slipcovers. You may have been given a display model or someone else's returned merchandise.
posted by jon1270 at 3:24 AM on April 3, 2011

Best answer: Also, denim sometimes just stinks if it's super new and unwashed. Or, as we'd say when we opened a box of samples from the factory, smells like China!

The people at the store may have no idea at all but I would suggest washing immediately once you come into possession of new covers, and turn them inside out. This is what you should be doing with your denim to preserve the wash anyway - your jeans that is - and I'd just apply the same logic to these covers. And don't use shampoo. :)
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:43 AM on April 3, 2011

Best answer: Since you said that the covers you washed again now look different from the rest I think the whole problem might be the quality of dye. The acid-wash effect happens to denim because it's so stiff that when it creases, even when wet, those creases get more abrasion (I think, I've had a few experiences washing large quantities of heavy denim/canvas type fabric and how it folds in the wash seems to affect it) so those parts on a poorly dyed fabric will lose dye more quickly. I'd try to exchange them for a different colour or pattern, something either pale enough that fading won't be an issue, or busy enough that the spider effect wouldn't be noticeable.
posted by Carlotta Bananas at 7:42 AM on April 3, 2011

Best answer: It might be soap buildup on the covers. I have a black twill skirt that this happens to. Before traipsing back to IKEA, try running a load through the washer with just water, no detergent or shampoo. To be extra sure, you might divide the load into two smaller batches, giving the fabric extra room in the machine/access to more water.
posted by sarajane at 8:16 AM on April 3, 2011

Best answer: Return the slipcovers, start again.
Wash the new ones gently (not all together) as described above if they are also stinky.

My experience of ikea slipcovers is that they shouldn't need immediate washing, and Im pretty sensitive to chemical smells and wash clothes before wearing.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 11:21 AM on April 3, 2011

What kind of shampoo? Shampoos with acids or enzymes can bleach fabric.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:57 PM on April 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, y'all.

I wound up test washing a couple cushion covers without detergent and verified that it wasn't soap, so it was probably abrasion on the creases. I returned the covers and got replacements - I saw them come off a new pallet, and they don't seem to smell as strongly.

I asked an employee, and he said that the wrinkles should fall out after a few days - they don't do anything special to the covers in the showroom. If that doesn't work, I figure I'll give a spray-on "wrinkle releaser" a shot. (The slipcovers come folded in a separate package from the furniture, so they all come horribly wrinkled. I was just surprised that they were so difficult to iron out.)
posted by momus_window at 7:47 PM on April 3, 2011

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